In The short story “A Days Wait” by Ernest Hemingway we get to know a father and his nine-year-old son, who gets ill with influenza. The son spends a whole day thinking of his death, which is a result of a small but significant misunderstanding. This misunderstanding occurs when a doctor comes to their home to diagnose the boy and tells that the boy’s temperature is one hundred and two. Subsequently, the doctor and the father go downstairs, and the doctor tells the father that there is nothing to worry about. Assuming that his son understands that the fever is not serious, the father does not discuss the matter further with his son. However, the son mistakes Fahrenheit for Celsius, and he believes that he is going to die. It is not until the end that the father realizes what has been going through his son’s mind and that his son has been waiting to die all day.
The main theme in the short story is how the misunderstanding between father and son affects them, and in particular how the young boy deals with the thought that he is going to die. Through-out the story we also get to know about the relationship between father and son.
Even though more characters are mentioned the short story is mainly centred on the son and the father. The boy goes through a development in the story. Although he is too young to be con-fronted with the thoughts of his imminent death, he doesn’t cry like a child normally would in such a situation. Instead he is worried and serious about it. He also shows a kind of maturity and courage, when he talks with his father, which is not normal for a nine-year-old. This shows that despite the fact that he is a child, who can’t understand everything by himself, he in some places acts like an adult. It is only when his father explains that he is not going to die that he relaxes, and the next day he acts like a child again. This development can be illustrated in these two scenes:
“After a while he said to me, 'You don't have to stay here...